Former Umno supreme council member Saifuddin Abdullah has defected to opposition party PKR because of the 1MDB and RM2.6 billion scandals.
Asked why he left Umno, Saifuddin said: "(Because of) the way they deal with the 1MDB and RM2.6 billion issues."
Putting speculation to rest, Saifuddin formally announced his defection to PKR today.
"I thank my friends in PKR who are willing to accept my joining the party. This is a big decision for a small person like me," Saifuddin told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Asked why he chose PKR and not some other party, he said he was really not sure why.
"In this issue, I don't know why but my heart steered me to PKR, even though I know there are other parties that are doing an equally good job," he said.
PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (photo) said they welcomed Saifuddin into PKR with open arms.
Saifuddin said he joined politics to build a better Malaysia for the people through political change and institutional reform, and this was why he feels he no longer fits in Umno.
"Unfortunately, after being so long in Umno and BN, I still don't see any comprehensive or substantive discussions (on issues).
"That is why I don't think I am suitable for Umno anymore," Saifuddin said.
He also said he would soon be handing in his resignation as executive director of the NGO Global Movement of Moderates (GMM).
Saifuddin’s entry into PKR comes after his clash with the Umno disciplinary board for attending an opposition roundtable meeting on Sept 22.
The roundtable meeting resulted in the formation of the new opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan.
His presence at the meeting caused a furore within Umno, with many party leaders condemning Saifuddin's decision to attend an opposition meeting.
Saifuddin defended his move, saying he was there as a representative of his NGO, Akademi Belia.
Saifuddin's show-cause reply 'crazy'
Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor then sent him a show-cause letter and gave Saifuddin 14 days to reply.
Saifuddin's reply sought clarification on certain issues contained in the letter, which Tengku Adnan labelled as a "crazy" response.
Previously, Saifuddin had denied talk that he was joining PKR.
Speculation of him joining the opposition party resurfaced this week when PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli said that a 'senior' Umno leader would be joining them.
The speculation intensified last night when a graphic was circulated on social media announcing that Saifuddin was indeed joining PKR.
The message had been shared by PKR leaders and activists, including PKR Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh.
Wan Azizah said: "I'm confident he (Saifuddin) will strengthen PKR and Pakatan Harapan's position in fighting for the rights and freedom of the rakyat."
However, she remained vague about the role Saifuddin would play in the opposition party.
"He can play many roles. We will tap into his talents, and from his role in GMM towards the youth, especially," she said.
Asked if Saifuddin would be given any position in the party or in Pakatan Harapan, she merely said this issue would be discussed.
In a symbolic gesture, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali then pinned his own PKR badge onto Saifuddin.
Meanwhile, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli (photo) told reporters that he has always thought Saifuddin sounded "more PKR than PKR ourselves" when they attended the same forums.
"I always joked that Saifuddin, when he goes back, has PKR's membership form under his pillow, so I don't know when he's gonna fill that in.
"Finally he has made that decision," Rafizi quipped.
He said he believed Saifuddin was trying to reform Umno from within before this.
"After what has happened in the last six months, I don't think anyone with a conscience and a sense of reality can have confidence that Umno will be able to reform itself," he said.
Hopefully, Saifuddin joining PKR will encourage more like-minded Umno members to follow in his footsteps, Rafizi added.Read more: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/315822#ixzz3odywXQ9U